Nine to Five Necessities

Five Fashionable and Functional Items for The Workday | Frock Files

One of the things I’ve always loved about working outside of my home is the abundance of accoutrements that can make you feel at home, even when you’re commuting or at the office. There are few things I salivate over more than objects that are both beautiful and serve some kind of function.

5 Work Day Essentials

Take, for example, my little espresso machine. It’s been in storage for the past year, but now that I actually have to wake up by a certain time I’ll need the full strength of a latte in the mornings. It doesn’t take up much counter space and it pulls beautiful shots of espresso. Years ago, a girl in Lucky Magazine recommended this machine and said that it makes “Reliably perfect cappuccinos every time.” She was right.

It’s also been fun to break out my favorite pair of pumps and my giant pashmina, neither of which got a lot of use since I started working from home. Pashminas are my go-to for work and travel, since they can double as blankets.

And since I never really outgrew my love of thermoses, I’m super excited about the new one I got from Zojirushi. This Japanese brand must put magic into their products, because they keep food and drinks hot/cold for literally hours. I’ve put iced drinks in our travel mugs at the beginning of the day and that night, I’m surprised to find that there’s still ice floating in them. Now I have a little squat one to keep my soups and stews hot for lunch!

I’ve also had the chance to break out this beautiful Swarovski crystal pen that my friend Stephanie gave me as a gift. It’s too special to use for grocery lists, but when I broke it out for my first meeting I instantly felt a little more confident. Having a token of friendship nearby makes everything more delightful!

Are there any things that you use daily that bring you glee? I’m always looking for recommendations!

 

Simple Recipe: Sweet Iced Coffee Cubes

Frock Files | Sweet Coffee Cubes for Iced Coffee

In the summertime, I love drinking iced coffee instead of my usual steaming cup of joe. Since I cold brew our coffee anyway, it’s actually easier in the mornings. But I like drinking my coffee in a leisurely fashion, which is hard with iced coffee because I’d end up with watery melted ice cubes on the top and the heavy coffee/milk combination on the bottom. Not appetizing.

I’ve heard of people freezing their coffee into cube form to eliminate the watery coffee issue, but when I did it I found that my coffee got bitter because the coffee to milk/sweetener ratio got thrown off. Since I sweeten my coffee with a little bit of condensed milk, I just added a tiny bit of condensed milk to the cubes to keep the proportions just right. It works! And a bonus: it’s really pretty.

Frock Files | Sweet Coffee Cubes for Iced Coffee

Ingredients

Condensed milk
Cold coffee

Instructions

1. Drizzle a quarter to half a teaspoon of condensed milk into the ice cube tray. You can also use caramel if you prefer the richer flavor, but you may need to heat it slightly in the microwave to get it to settle sufficiently.

2. Pour the coffee over the condensed milk. Add cream or milk if desired.

3. Freeze for at least four hours, or overnight.

Frock Files | Sweet Coffee Cubes for Iced Coffee

This is the perfect thing to serve for brunch or with afternoon visitors. Add a little bit of Kahlua and you have an instant cocktail!
Frock Files | More Simple Recipes

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Tuesday Tips: How to Cold Brew Coffee

Frock Files | How to Cold Brew Coffee

When we were in Puerto Rico, I spent almost the entire week plotting ways to get the staff to tell me what kind of coffee they use at breakfast. It was smooth and mild, and best of all I didn’t seem to get the stomach pains I usually get from drinking coffee. When I finally got up the nerve to ask, the waiter said, “It’s just some generic, bulk wholesale coffee they sell to hotels.” Darnit.

Because I refuse to give up coffee in the mornings, I came home and went on a search for low acid beans. What I found was a wealth of information on cold brewing, which decreases the acidity of coffee by 68%, making it tolerable for people with sensitive stomachs, like me. James and I tried it, and both felt great from day one. Halleleujah! Because if we had to go without coffee people would call ours The House of Grumpy. Hashtag notmorningpeople.

The brewing method takes time, but the process is simple.

frock-files-cold-press-1

1. Measure out one cup of ground coffee into a stainless steel bowl.
2. Add 1/4 cup water. Mix gently until the grounds are moistened.

Frock Files | How to Cold Brew Coffee

3. Add 3/4 cup water. Cover tightly with cling film and allow to sit on your counter for 12-16 hours.

Frock Files | How to Cold Brew Coffee
4. Strain the coffee using a French press or by pouring through cheesecloth. This produces a coffee concentrate, which should measure about 1/2 cup.
5. Add 2 to 2 1/2 cups water to the concentrate. Heat on your stovetop or in the microwave.

By not heating the grounds, you’ll prevent much of the acidity from escaping. Genius, right? There are plenty of other methods, and if you love cold brewing you may consider investing in a cold brew system down the road. We’re eyeing this one.

Frock Files: How to Cold Brew Coffee

The Happiness Project’s Gretchen Rubin talks about her Secrets of Adulthood, like “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” and “You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do.” I think one of mine should be: “Eat and drink things that make you feel good, or at least not terrible.” This trick with the cold brewing is one way of helping me get there.

What’s your morning ritual?

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Early Birds

As most of you know, my commute right now lasts about 30 seconds, but it wasn’t always so. I’ve worked my share of 8 to 5 jobs, many of them with long commutes on public transportation (Oh, that love/hate relationship with the T!). Even now, I sometimes have to leave the house to get to a morning meeting, and no matter how much time I give myself it never feels like enough. I’m always rushing out the door, inevitably forgetting something important.

To simplify these mad morning dashes, I’ve developed a few tricks. And by tricks, I mostly mean that I’ve found awesome products that aid in minimizing my scattered-ness in the morning.

1. Theory ‘Soream – Glowing’ A-Line Silk Shirtdress  2. MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation  3. Tiger .45 Liter Thermal Vacuum Tumbler  4. Brookstone Wireless Key Tracker

I’m all about the shirtdress — one piece, how much easier can it get? My friend Kim recommended the Studio Fix powder, which basically took my foundation application time from five minutes to about twenty seconds. The Tiger mug is amazing because its supernatural powers keep your coffee or tea warm for hours, so you can make it first thing without worrying about getting stuck with a lukewarm drink. Oh, and just when I think I’m ready to hit the road, I’m always, always digging for my keys…so this Brookstone remote is a lifesaver.

And what about breakfast? Well, you’re in luck — the folks over at TheKitchn just posted a roundup of make-ahead breakfast recipes. I’m in love with the idea of pre-making oatmeal and storing it in handy Mason jars that you can just toss in your bag on the way out the door. Genius!

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